As we walk along the journey of Entrepreneurship together, we have covered the first two steps that each and every Entrepreneur goes through – Ideating his product or service and the subsequent development of a Business Plan to give the venture a blueprint upon which to move forward.
With that out of the way, the next step is to actually design the product which your venture seeks to provide to the market. A key set of questions must be asked before the product ever gets to manufacturing – Who will buy it? What value will it add to the market? The phase of product design must consider these points before beginning the design.
The ordinary entrepreneur breaks down his product into small segments – he literally splits the whole product into small segments and then designs them one by one. He writes a big functional outline and focuses on each part at a time and designs the various segments step-by-step and at the end of this process, he integrates them into one complete product. It is often seen that the components have all the functionality that they were looking for – however, it just doesn’t flow right! The components do not integrate perfectly and the product lacks the “yes-we-have-hit-the-jackpot” feel!
This ordinary entrepreneur knows what he wants, but does not know how to accomplish what he wants.
Microsoft found a solution to this in the form of Activity Based Planning (popularly known as ABP). The key insight is not to think of the product and then design it but to figure out the activity that the user will be doing, and focus on making it easier for the user to do that activity.
The main advantage with ABP is that the focus is perfectly correct – the customer.
This is a technique which has been time tested – one of the main followers of the ABP technique is Flipkart – as Binny Bansal himself said in an interview -”We have done nothing new. There is no new idea behind Flipkart. What we have done is simply to change the approach” – Today, Flipkart uses an outlook similar to that of Amazon – both these companies are customer centric.
The six basic steps in this customer centric approach are:
a. Invent some users – This will put you in the mindset of the user – Get some friends to act as the users of your to-be-made product.
b. Figure out the activity that your product will do – This has already been done using the dynamic Ideation – which is the first step of any entrepreneur.
c. Figure out the user model – How will the user accomplish the activity?
d. Sketch out the integrated draft – A draft which does not break down your product into its basic components but instead considers it as one cohesive unit – keeping in mind the final objective and building the components to satisfy the user model.
e. Develop the product with the design
f. Watch real humans try out the product – correct the product – Watch the segment where people are having trouble and find areas where the user model is not effectively met.
g. Repair – Make changes.
Yes, budding Entrepreneurs, keep everything aside and think of the customer. Focus on everything with the consumer in mind.
And nothing can stop you from that amazingly huge evaluation you are looking for!
Contributed by Mohit Agarwal
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